Americans Against the War statement concerning events at the NO to NATO protest in Strasbourg on April 4, 2009
AAW is outraged by the state violence directed at thousands of peaceful demonstrators and dismayed that the major media saw fit not to interview the marchers, thus becoming complicit in the French government's determination to both stifle their message and to deny protesters their democratic rights.
In their efforts to grab resources such as oil, U.S. led Empire Builders use NATO troops to slaughter, wound and maim millions in order to crush any who dare resist US hegemony.
The demonstration in Strasbourg was held to oppose NATO, an aggressive, global, military alliance increasingly used by the U.S.A. to replace the United Nations. The thousands of heavily armed forces massed in Strasbourg to confront peaceful demonstrators is a reflection of NATO's strategy world-wide.
As Americans we are acutely aware that the repression ordered by Nicolas Sarkozy was linked to Barack Obama's mission in Strasbourg: to convince the other NATO members to increase the number of soldiers engaged in fighting US-led wars against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
We are baffled that European leaders should so willingly support American wars and occupation which, as history shows, inevitably fail and leave a legacy of hatred for generations to come.
As residents of France, with it's long history of refusal to join NATO's military command, we deplore President Sarkozy's wanton disregard of the people's wishes.
In line with NATO's pro-active military strategy, which means to stop events before they occur, everything was done to prevent the Strasbourg protest from taking place: the city was put under siege; the local population was prevented from expressing solidarity; public transportation was shut down making it necessary for the protesters to walk for hours, past numerous police check points, to access the remote area where the imposed site for the demonstration was located. And even while these sabotaging tactics were implemented in Strasbourg, the police prevented a reported 7000 peaceful, fellow demonstrators from Germany from crossing into France although the Schengen Agreement supposedly enables Europeans to travel freely between EU countries.
In spite of all these hurdles, some 30,000 protesters in Strasbourg bravely cycled or walked for hours, past intimidating police forces, and finally reached the imposed site: a gravel pit in the middle of a post-industrial no-man's land. While assembled and trapped in that pit, trying to listen to speakers amid the roar of helicopters overhead, Sarkozy's forces repeatedly launched teargas grenades onto and at the peaceful demonstrators, including Americans Against the War members, who dared to say NO to NATO. Their attacks continued along the route of the subsequent march, where, in addition to teargas, they used flash bombs while keeping protesters penned in, having blocked off all possible exits.
Freedom is not for governments to grant: democratic rights exist to the extent that people demand and use them. Despite Sarkozy's attempts at sabotage, not only did we exercise our rights on April 4, but the multinational anti-war, anti-NATO groups have come away strengthened and more determined than ever to continue demonstrating for justice and peace.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
assassinated April 4, 1967